Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two British companies, Alvan Blanch Development Company and Colas limited, to improve post-harvest handling and management of agricultural products.
The agreement signed at the National Agricultural Research Organization-NARO in Entebbe on Friday is aimed at implementing the agriculture sector strategic plan ending June 2020. The plan prioritises improved access to markets and value addition for agricultural produce.
Implementation of the 55 billion shillings programme will start in the next financial next year.
According to the MoU, the two British companies will finance 85% of the project while the government will contribute 15%.
Peter Lars Jensen signed on behalf of Colas limited and Andrew Blanch signed on behalf of Alvan Blanch Development Company. Pius Wakabi signed on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The signing was witnessed by the British High Commissioner to Uganda Peter West and Minister of Agriculture Vincent Ssempijja.
The programme involves setting up grain, fruit and feeds processing plants in the districts of Yumbe, Kapeeka, Nwoya, and Kayunga.
Ssempijja says that the programme is in line with one of the main objectives of the Ministry which is, improving agro industrialization for job creation.
Ssempijja says, there has been an increase in harvests for food for both home consumption and export. For instance, in 2017/2018 financial year, there was an increase of maize harvest from 2 million tons to 3.2 million tons which led to the decline of prices of maize.
Ssempijja says, the two British companies that would help in post-harvest handling and value addition will greatly help farmers earn from the products.
The two companies will be mandated to procure and install twelve fruit processing plants and the construction of nineteen bulk storage facilities with a total capacity of 2,000 metric tons for harvested agricultural products.
In a bid to avail more food to humans and livestock, poultry and fisheries; the Agriculture Ministry will also procure and install ten milling plants and nine feed processing plants in key strategic locations across the country.
Wakabi says the ministry has identified the main maize-producing districts where warehouses for food storage shall be installed.
The districts are Kayunga, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Kakumiro and Nakasongola in the central while Bugiri, Buyende, Iganga, Kaliro, Kamuli, Luuka, Mayuge, Namutumba, Bugweri, and Namayingo were pointed out in Busoga region.
Others are, Bukwo, Bulambuli, Kween, Sironko, Kaberamido, and Serere in Elgon and Teso regions. Hoima, Kikuube, Kabarole, and Kyegegwa will also benefit from the initiative.
West said signing of the MoU was a landmark for a programme that will see the future of agriculture in the country from predominantly subsistence to commercial and industrialized.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation-FAO, sub-Sahara Africa is losing as much as 4 billion dollars every year due to post-harvest grain losses. FAO suggests that investing in post-harvest technologies to reduce food losses could significantly increase the food supply in the region.
Agriculture remains the main thrust of Uganda’s economic growth contributing 25% of the national gross domestic product, employing more than 75% of Uganda’s population.